This is post 1 in a 6-part series.
For self defense, simplicity is key. You cannot afford to find yourself in a fight and have too many options going through your head. You must be able to react immediately. So that said, this series will attempt to give you a breakdown of what movements you should drill until they are automatic.
Naturally, different people will have different opinions, so the techniques suggested will be drawn from those most often used with success in MMA. Additionally, there are more options from each position than could ever be presented in a single blog post, so major alternatives will be presented in a list immediately following the highlighted techniques.
Also, note that the strategy presented will be from the point of view of a jiu-jitsu fighter. A striking oriented fighter might use the major alternatives presented here as their go-to moves, while using the grappling philosophy as their backup plans. This does not indicate one style as being superior to another. Rather, it is indicative of different fighting strategies, both of which are proven and tested to be effective.
The major positions in a fight, which dictate technique and strategy, are:
Guard (including half guard)
Side (including north-south, headlocks, etc.)
Back (including the turtle)
The striking range is the most fluid and open of all the positions. In fact, just a single subset - boxing - is a science unto itself. There are entire strategy sets here that do not apply to many ground positions.
Stick & move - used against fighters who want to clinch, get inside, or stand toe-to-toe and brawl.
Get inside - employed against fighters who are taller and longer, or who strike better from the outside.
Stay outside - employed against fighters who wish to fight inside. Often paired with the stick & move strategy.
Cut off the ring - used to chase down a fighter who is staying away and corner them.
Toe-to-toe - standing mostly in front of the opponent and striking from there. May or may not be used with evasive movement or simple personal toughness.
Cover & clinch (aggressive opponent)
Cover & clinch (conservative opponent)
Shoot for double legs / single legs
Alternate Offensive Technique
Front kick (snap)
Moving forward, away, left, right, diagonally